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A top official from the United Kingdom had some advice for Ukraine this week, telling the country to show more gratitude for the billions of dollars in international aid it has received from around the world.
Ben Wallace, Secretary of State for Defence of the United Kingdom, made the comments Wednesday at the NATO summit in Lithuania when he was asked to comment on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s frustration with the timeline of becoming a member-state.
“There is a slight word of caution here, which is that whether we like it or not people want to see gratitude,” Wallace told journalists during a briefing. “My counsel to the Ukrainians is sometimes you’re persuading countries to give up their own stocks [of weapons] and yes the war is a noble war and yes we see it as you doing a war for — not just yourself — but our freedoms.”
Wallace added that he sometimes hears “grumbles” from politicians in the United States – which has given the largest amount of aid to Ukraine by far – regarding a lack of gratitude from the country, to which American political leaders have said “We’re not Amazon” according to the defense chief.
Wallace said he has expressed the same sentiment as many in Washington, “I said to the Ukrainians last year, when I drove 11 hours to [Kyiv to] be given a list — I said, I am not Amazon.”
Earlier in the NATO summit, Zelensky expressed his frustration over the timeline of Ukraine becoming a member state, calling it “unprecedented” and “absurd.” A summit announcement issued Tuesday stated that NATO would be “in a position” to invite Ukraine to join the alliance only “when Allies agree and conditions are met.”
White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan expressed a similar sentiment as the U.K. defense chief, saying the American people deserve gratitude for the extent to which the country has supported Ukrainian war efforts through taxpayer dollars.
“I think the American people do deserve a degree of gratitude from the United States government for their willingness to step up and from the rest of the world as well,” Sullivan said at the summit, avoiding directly addressing the Ukrainians.
Despite Wallace’s statement, U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said that Zelensky had already “expressed his gratitude for what we’ve done on a number of occasions,” and offered to “continue to give him the support he needs.”
Since the war began, the United States Congress has allocated roughly $113 billion in aid to Ukraine; no other country has come close to what the U.S. has sent. And last week, the White House announced that cluster bombs would be included in an $800 million weapons package to Ukraine.
President Biden has previously pledged to support Ukraine for “as long as it takes,” despite some Republicans in Congress expressing their reservations on continued support and roughly 44% of Republican and Republican-leaning independent voters believing the country is sending too much, according to a Gallup poll.
In early May, Rep. Anna Paulina Luna (R-FL) wrote to a New York Times reporter in an email, “I just got back from meeting with the Ukrainian Parliament in Poland, where they demanded F-35s and thought it was an obligation for every American to pay $10 a month to fund their war.”